Jim Franklin (artist)

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Jim Franklin
Jim Franklin (holding megaphone) backstage at the Ritz Theatre 1975
James Franklin

1943 (age 74–75)
EducationSan Francisco Art Institute.
Known forPainting, illustration, Comix
Notable work
Armadillo World Headquarters poster art

Jim Franklin (born 1943 in Galveston, Texas) is an artist, illustrator, and underground cartoonist best known for his poster art created for the Armadillo World Headquarters, a former Austin, Texas, music hall. He is also known for his detailed, surrealistic illustrations of armadillos.

Franklin studied at the San Francisco Art Institute. Returning to Texas, he teamed with musicians and artists to open a psychedelic music hall in Austin, called the Vulcan Gas Company.[1] Franklin lived in the club and was its primary poster artist for bands such as Shiva's Headband, 13th Floor Elevators, Conqueroo, and Canned Heat.[2] At the Vulcan, Franklin and Gilbert Shelton worked together for the first time.

Franklin began drawing armadillos in 1968 and they became a symbol of the hippie counterculture movement in Texas.[3] He used this armadillo motif when creating the album art for Shiva's Headband's first record, Take Me to the Mountains and poster art for the Armadillo World Headquarters. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen's live recording, Live from Deep in the Heart of Texas, features Franklin's armadillo art, as do the Freddie King albums, Texas Cannonball and Woman Across the River.

Franklin's surrealistic armadillos and other art often appeared on the cover of Austin's underground newspaper, The Rag. According to Robert Lemmo, Franklin "catapulted to countercultural fame when his obsessively detailed and surrealistic armadillos began to fill the pages of an underground weekly called The Rag. The armadillo became a folk hero the likes of which hadn't been seen in Texas since Davy Crockett days."[4]

Franklin also wrote Underground comix and created Armadillo Comics. Franklin's armadillo paintings earned him the nickname, the "Michelangelo of armadillo art".[5] In 1971, The New Yorker ran a feature story on Franklin and his work, entitled "Armadillo Man".[6] A portion of Les Blank's long-unreleased 1974 documentary, A Poem Is A Naked Person, depicts Franklin's creation of a mural in Leon Russell's empty swimming pool.[7]

Many of Franklin's paintings and posters are signed with the initials JFKLN. He continues to paint and is often seen on opening nights at the South Austin Museum of Popular Culture.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jim Franklin (jfkln)". South Austin Museum of Popular Culture. Archived from the original on 2007-03-07. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  2. ^ Simon, Cheryl L. "VULCAN GAS COMPANY". The Handbook of Texas Online. The Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  3. ^ Moser, Margaret (October 6, 2006). "A Lot of Cojones and a Little Faith: The art of Micael Priest". The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  4. ^ Gillespie, Angus K. and Jay Mechling, American Wildlife in Symbol and Story, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1987.
  5. ^ Smith, Larry L. "ARMADILLO". The Handbook of Texas Online. The Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 2007-01-15.
  6. ^ Hertzberg, Hendrick, "Armadillo Man", The New Yorker, December 11, 1971.
  7. ^ Alex Pappademas, "SXSW Film Fest Superlatives: Rock Docs, Yuppie Nightmares, and a Ghost in Your iPhone", Grantland, March 23, 2015.

External links[edit]